I've been considering lately, trying to have coffee with my pastor and discussing my dilemma with the church . . . actually his church specifically. I’ve talked about this many times in this blog that me, the somewhat post-Evangelical, trying to fit into an evangelical church is like the proverbial square peg in the round hole.
My wife accuses me of putting thoughts into other people’s minds and maybe that is true. But I’ve had this imaginary conversation with the pastor many times. I think I know how the conversation would go, and that’s not just conjecture, but based on previous conversations with him over coffee . . . or pizza. Maybe I’m putting words in his mouth, but I think they are the words that he would really speak.
It is really hard to put into simple terms my position (and the position of many of us in this same quasi-not evangelical-but believer category). Our pastor, like many evangelicals I’ve tried talking to (see my previous posts about why it is hard to speak to an evangelical) usually have on their “liberal” radar. Within a few words spoken by me I’m sure the radar will be setting off alarms. But theologically, I am quite conservative, while socially, I may be liberal and that’s where the confusion begins.
As I boil it down I think it comes to my perspective on redemption. It was the organization LAbri (which I found as a breath of fresh air while suffocating under the blanket of evangelicalism) that first introduced me to the concept of the redemption of all of creation.
As a dualistic evangelical, redemption, like everything else, only applies to the spiritual . . . the saving of souls (and all that is involved with that). However, in my perspective of redemption, it covers the material as well.
In practical terms, we live in a fallen, broken world. God had chosen us, people created in his image to bring redemption to this broken world. While He desires everyone to be redeemed spiritually that’s not the whole picture. In redeeming our physical bodies, nature, culture and everything else, He can use the church, but He can use those (whom evangelicals would consider as nasty) non-Christians as well.
So, besides the traditional view of the gospel, redemption, in my opinion, also would include:
Any beautiful art
Beautiful music (Mozart was a redeemer of sound/noise while he probability was not redeemed himself spiritually. But like I said, God can use the church and those outside the Church).
Not only food for the hungry but great tasting food for even those with plenty.
Physical healing. I work in chronic pain disorders and I image a huge pile of physical suffering that I, hopefully, have been able to remove from my patients as an act of redemption.
Picking up liter.
Fixing up a broken down old house.
Making a garden.
Writing a wonderful book (even by non-Christian authors)
I could go on and on. That’s why I don’t measure a presidential candidate on one or two issues, but the entire package of bringing redemption to the world.
But this language sets off the liberal alarms among my evangelical friends. But once again, theologically I believe virtually everything that Luther believed. I respect those who are Christian and don’t believe Luther.